Columns / Discourse / February 22, 2012

Observing America: An unholy federal mandate

The Obama Administration recently delivered a mandate for religious institutions, excluding the church, to provide healthcare coverage for contraceptives in universities, charities, hospitals et cetera. This new mandate is strictly unconstitutional.

The First Amendment is clear. The U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (http://goo.gl/bHPo). This healthcare mandate goes against the Catholic Church’s religious belief against contraceptives.

In fact, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops came out opposing this new government regulation. A recently appointed Cardinal from New York, Timothy Dolan, called the plan “‘a hill of beans,’ saying he would support legislation in Congress that would allow employers to deny birth control coverage if it clashes with religious beliefs” (http://goo.gl/EXzFB).

Even though President Obama backed out of his original plan, he still fails to respect religious freedom. His plan requires “insurance companies (rather than Catholic employers) to pay for the contraceptive coverage and to contract separately with the individual employees who might want that coverage” (http://goo.gl/mBC5h). The President cannot mandate any religious institution or insurance company connected with the Catholic Church to provide free contraceptives.

This assault on religious freedom can be applied to other faiths. It’s not just about Catholics. The mandate sets a precedent for government to institute any kind of mandate against religion. For example, this contraception plan is as appalling as mandating Jews to eat bacon or Mormons to drink caffeine. It may sound ridiculous, but these are religious customs that government must respect.

As a Catholic, this policy disgusts me. To be completely honest, I usually don’t write columns on social issues. I believe social issues are not federal issues; they should be left up to the States as the Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” (http://goo.gl/EgDc). Yet, this is an assault on my own faith. Government is wrong. The State should not tell my Church or any church to change any of their beliefs.

But Catholics are not the only ones upset with Obama. The editorial board of USA Today, a moderate newspaper, agreed that the mandate went too far. They concluded that “the Obama administration didn’t just cross that line. It galloped over it, requiring employers affiliated with the Catholic Church to include free birth control in their health insurance plans. That’s contrary to both Catholic doctrine and constitutional guarantees of religious freedom” (http://goo.gl/4VKmb).

Therefore, the contraception mandate is all about common sense. It infringes Catholic beliefs and sets dangerous precedents between religious institutions and the government. However, Democrats don’t get it. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, said, “we had a good discussion in our caucus today and the caucus totally supports the president. I do” (http://goo.gl/Zrtqw).

Government doesn’t understand the constitutional issue. They seem to not know the law. Hopefully, during this new season of Lent, congressmen will respect the Catholic faith and obstruct President Obama. One can only pray.

Alex Uzarowicz
Alex Uzarowicz has been a weekly conservative political columnist for The Knox Student for three years. He also writes for The College Conservative. Alex will graduate in June 2013 with a degree in political science, after which he will head abroad to begin his Peace Corps service.


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